Scorpions Sting Again; ICC Kibitzers Hopelessly Confused
Well, the Scorpions did it again! They squeaked by the Chicago Blaze 2.5 – 1.5
Let’s see a very important ending on board 3 where Mehmed Pasalic (CHI) was battling Danny Rensch. A very dramatic battle with several key, instructive moments.
Pasalic (CHI) – Rensch (ARZ) Sicilian Najdorf
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f4 e5 7.Nf3 Nbd7 8.Bd3 b5 9.0-0 Bb7 10.Qe2 Be7 11.Kh1 g6?! I don’t understand this move. I would just cackle. I can do …g6 later, usually as a reaction to white’s probe Nf3-h4 move.
12.fxe5 dxe5 13.Bh6 Ng4 14.Bd2 Nc5 15.Rad1?! After something like 15. h3 h5 16. a3, black’s knight is just hanging in limbo on g4 and white is better.
15…Nxd3 16.cxd3 b4 17.Nb1 h5 18.Be1 Qb6 19.Bf2 Nxf2+ 20.Rxf2 Qe6 21.Nbd2 0-0 22.Nc4 f6 Black’s kingside pawns look funny but white doesn’t have the right pieces on the board to exploit it.
23.Qe3 Kg7 24.Rc2 Rfc8 25.h3 a5 26.b3 a4 27.Qe1 Rd8 28.Re2 Ba6 29.Rc2 Bxc4 More foxy is 29…axb3 30. axb3 Rac8 and black can decide when or if to play Bxc4.
30.dxc4 axb3 31.axb3 Rxd1 32.Qxd1 f5 33.Re2 Rd8 34.Qe1 Bf6? 34…f4 kept the balance.
35.Qxb4 Rd3 36.Qb8! This is strong and black might have underestimated it.
36…fxe4 37.Qb7+ Kh6 38.Qxe4
After an up and down game, white is starting to assert himself. It is starting to get really interesting, and this is when I started watching. It didn’t look good.
This is a good moment to pause due to a tactical nuance.
Here ICC kibitzers initially were calling for black to take on b3: 38…Rxb3. Another kibitzer pointed out that this was not playable due to “38…Rxb3 39. Nd4!” so we thought it was unplayable. But go a little deeper! 39. Nd4 Rxh3+!! (a fantastic resource!) 40. Kg1 (40. gxh3? Qxh3+ and black is not worse at all) 40…Qb6! and black is only a little worse!
Both sides were running low on time. Here white missed two clean wins.
The easiest, as pointed out by IM D. Fernandez, was 39. Rd2!! Rxd2 40. Qe3+ Kg7 41. Nxd2 and white is completely winning, maintaining the e4 blockade.
The second choice, and very popular in ICC kibitzing (but inferior to Fernandez’s move but it’s harder to work out), was the more complicated 39. b4. After 39…Rd1+ 40. Re1 Rxe1+ 41. Qxe1 e4 it’s time for another interesting quiz. What’s best here? Answer to be posted later.
Position after 41….e4; White to play and win (analysis). Can you solve it?
39.Nxe5?! White bypasses both of those wins, but as we shall see, this should have been winning too.
39…Bxe5 40.Qxe5 Qxe5 41.Rxe5 Rxb3
Yermolinsky Sets Us Straight
Most ICC kibitzers felt this was totally drawn. Only GM Yermolinsky was wise enough to enlighten us – see comment to white’s 43rd move.
42.h4! The correct first step to fix the g6 pawn.
Only GM Yermolinsky recognized this as a blunder. He laid out a winning plan that is foolproof and brilliant in its simplicity. In hindsight obvious, but he is the only one that saw it among the gawking multitudes. Put pawn on c5, he said, and prepare then put pawn on g3, and Rook on g5 holding everything, and move king to queenside. Indeed, that pins black’s king to g6, and black is helpless against the white king shepherding the c-pawn. A fantastic, simple in hindsight, and very aesthetic plan! Black is completely powerless to stop its realization.
Clearly Pasalic missed it, but so did most of the ICC kibitzers.
43…Rc2 44.Rc7 Rd2 45.Kh2 Rd4! By bothering white’s kingside pawns, the black rook “latches on” and prevents any further progress. The Scorpions win the match by the narrow 2.5 – 1.5 margin!
46.g3 Rd3 47.c5 Rd2+ 48.Kg1 Rc2 49.Rc8 Kg7 50.Rc6 Kf7 51.Kf1 Kg7 52.Rc8 Kf6 53.c6 Kf5 54.c7 Kg4 55.Rg8 Rxc7 56.Rxg6+ Kf3 57.Kg1 Rc2 58.Rb6 Kxg3 59.Rb3+ Kxh4 60.Rb4+ Kg3 61.Rb3+ Kg4 62.Rb4+ Kg3 63.Rb3+ Kg4 64.Rb4+ Kg3 Game drawn by repetition 1/2-1/2
Wow! A great fighting, titantic battle in the best USCL tradition!
Last year, I, too, held a draw in a bad game vs Pasalic to win a CHI-ARZ match. Chicago must be getting tired of us!
What Else is New?
I’m involved in a fierce smutty movie debate with a female chess player on Facebook. Fear not, gentle reader — our debate is not smutty – only the movie is.